Walking Paradise Tenerife

04/12/2017

Walking Paradise Tenerife

Walking Paradise Tenerife

Tenerife had never really been on my radar as an adventure destination before, so when the Whereabouts team suggested I go and check out their Walking Paradise Tenerife Tour, I was really curious to see what I would find. Would it be heaven? Or would it be hell?

Day 2 Circular Hike Garachico Coastal Views

14km, 990m+, 990m-

Because Day 1 is a travelling day, I am going to start right in with the good stuff, the hiking. The sun was out and breakfast in the courtyard of the hotel was enlivened by two politely hungry pigeons, who hovered for crumbs. The hotel was right next to the pretty church and the start of the walk. This tour is self-guided and I hadn’t brought a GPS – I’d decided to do it old school and follow the instructions and the map – so, of course, I was hoping the instructions would be good. They were excellent. I followed them exactly, and didn’t get lost or take a wrong turn once.

Deep blue sea, with a bright blue sky and the occasional yacht sailing past made me realise I was on holiday.

This day was a good beginning to the holiday because it shocked the legs into action. It was straight up for 7km and then straight down for 7km, with the steepest part at the start. The trail wound up the side of the mountain, so you had the most magnificent view of the bay and then the whole coastline of this part of the island. Deep blue sea, with a bright blue sky and the occasional yacht sailing past made me realise I was on holiday. Most of the walk passed through forest and, as it got higher, there were fields of lichen-covered, lava boulders. There had obviously been a forest fire at some point as the bark of the trees was blackened, contrasting with the silver boulders and the green leaves.

I had started late so as I was coming back down, I was in time for a glorious sunset over the water.

 

Day 3 Garachico – Santiago del Teide, Laurel Forests

10.6km, 990m+, 250m-

I set off through a lush oasis of banana trees the stiff-necked orange and purple flowers of the bird of paradise plant and a scattering of scarlet geraniums.

There was a short bus transfer to start the day to Los Silos. It was very easy to navigate and gave me a chance to practice my very basic Spanish with the driver. I set off through a lush oasis of banana trees the stiff-necked orange and purple flowers of the bird of paradise plant and a scattering of scarlet geraniums.

Soon the path started its steep slope upwards and I was on my own. That whole day I only saw two other people on the trail; two young Spanish climbers who quickly overtook me with their ropes and gear slung over their backs. A lot of this path was through laurel forests and at one point I sat in absolute silence for ten minutes so I could hear the insects and see the birds. A robin – well it looked like a robin – and a dragonfly rewarded me with flashes of colour.

The last part of the day was actually my favourite, and not just because of the prospect of a cold coke at the end of it. The path wound down through conifer woods and gave great views out to the volcano which was wreathed in fog, or maybe steam.

 

 

Day 4 Circular Walk Teno - Mountain Range, Green Uplands

13.45km, 900m+, 550m-

To get to the beginning of the route, it was necessary to take a taxi from the hotel, which cost around €20. Across some cactus-plant-filled fields with dramatic skies above and then, yes, you have guessed it, some steep uphill. The third day of hiking is always a bit of an interesting one for me; on the one hand my legs are getting used to it, but on the other they are also beginning to feel tired. It was a day of many rests.

The cool of the forest for the initial section was really welcome as I headed for the village of Los Bailladeros. I had just bought a cold drink and some local liquorice and was heading to the little square with benches opposite the church for my lunch when I heard the sound of bells. I looked round and a herd of goats, with huge udders, were trotting down the hill, obviously on their way home to get milked. They didn’t have anyone with them but the lead goat was in charge and led them all down a little path to the farm. This area is famous for its goats’ cheese, which is delicious and tastes better somehow when you have seen the animals it comes from.

 



After a steep uphill stretch, I came out onto the ridge and the next few kilometres were bliss. High ridge walking overlooking the steep, black cliffs with the sea beneath and ahead of me a long ridge of blue mountains stretching right to the horizon. I was so high that the mist from the sea was beneath me, snaking softly in and out of the forbidding rocks. This section definitely gets a place in my top 10 walks of all time. Absolutely unmissable.

It was also very geographically interesting as you could clearly see the split between the wetter, more fertile part of the island, and the drier part. Looking at one of the hills ahead, half was covered in trees and the other half was barren.

 

One of the clever things that the islanders do to conserve as much water as possible, is to construct fog nets. These are big, rectangular mesh nets stretched vertically along a frame, which collect the water, drop it down into a channel below which feeds into an irrigation pipe. They are modelled on the plants of the island which use their leaves to do exactly the same thing.

 

Day 5 Santiago del Teide – Los Gigantes, Masca Gorge

4km, 0m+, 600m-

Today was completely different. There was no climbing, it was only a short distance and we were heading straight down a gorge. I had met up the night before with two other people who were doing the same tour, Henrietta from Germany and Thomas from Switzerland, so we shared a taxi to the start of the gorge. I stopped at the beginning to buy two cactus plant fruit for a euro. I eat a lot of these in Morocco and wanted to see if they tasted different as they were white and red rather than orange. The white one was sharper and the red sweeter.

The Masca Gorge is a big, bouldery, clambering walk. You need your hands as well as your feet and if you go wrong, you can find yourself perched on something precarious. The river going through it was more or less dried up, and there were only a few puddles of water but you could track its path from the bamboo and palm trees. Even dry, some of the rocks were slippery and I can imagine that if it were raining, it would be virtually unwalkable.

 


It was a lot of fun. There were dozens of people doing it, shouting their echoes through the valley and racing each other up and down the stones. The gorges are dotted with caves and natural arches, ideal to go off and explore.

Suddenly, a patch of blue sky appears, you’ve been enclosed in the rocks until this point, and then you are on the beach and a short boat ride away from Los Gigantes where we spent the night. Los Gigantes was our only brush with “tourist” Tenerife and we enjoyed the chance to eat as much as possible at the buffet and do a bit of shopping. I had a room with a balcony which looked right out to sea, and slept with my terrace doors wide open so I could hear the waves all night.

 

Day 6 Los Gigantes - Arona, Bridle Paths

14.5km. 750m+, 300m-

Back in the wilderness, with a route that was characterised by winding paths through the forest. Of course, there was the obligatory 4km of steep climb to start with, but, after that, it was just a glorious, easy walk in the shadow of the conifers, soft underfoot with cushions of pine needles.

Points of interest today were the threshing circles for grain and ancient shepherds’ huts and habitable caves. The scenery was a bit reminiscent of Scotland, with open views and black peaks rising in the distance.

The biggest point of interest for me, though, was when I got to the hotel and found there was a spa. Straight into the sauna and then the ice pool for my tired legs. Then, back in the sauna again to warm up. Definitely a bonus.

 

Day 7 Vilaflor Loop Tour, White Moonscape

13km, 600m+, 600m-

All too soon, it was the last day. The week had really sped past. Today, the hike was all about the tall, white cones and spirals of fossilised lava ash and volcanic debris that formed millions of years ago in the forest.

I hardly felt the uphill as I headed for the view point in bright sunshine. I passed the wave-like pumice stone formations and checked I had plenty of battery left for photos. Then, about 3 kilometres away, the mist started to roll in and within ten minutes, I was enveloped in a white cloud. Visibility was down to about five metres. I got to the sign for the viewpoint – but no view, just the mist. Ahh, the joys of hiking! I cheered myself up with my salami and cheese sandwich and all was right with the world again.

 

Thoughts on the week

I was truly impressed with Tenerife. It definitely surprised me. The countryside was magnificent, the trails were well signposted and immaculately clean and the views were fabulous. I loved the fact that I was on my own in the wilderness for a lot of the time. I also loved the variety of the countryside: desert to lush forest, cool mist to hot sunshine, and mountain to sea all in a few days.

The walking is called “moderate” and I think that is exactly right. It is enough of a challenge to test your legs and get you fitter but not so hard that you are exhausted every night. The instructions were impeccable and easy to follow. The hotels were great with good facilities and friendly staff and having my luggage transferred, instead of having to carry it on my back, was a luxury.

I did the holiday on my own but it would also be great for a couple, family or group and there are so many options on each hike that if there were people of different abilities, it wouldn’t matter.

You can check out the full itinerary here: https://whereaboutsholidays.com/all-walking-holidays/walking-paradise-tenerife-walking-holiday

There are lots of pictures from my trip on https://www.instagram.com/whereaboutshols/
or https://www.instagram.com/aliceoutthere1/(you may have to scroll through)

Happy Hiking!